UNStudio/Ben van Berkel and consortium DUO² complete swirling commercial tower
One of the largest green commercial facilities in Europe has now been completed. Located in the blossoming city of Groningen in the Netherlands, the 92m high tower is soon to become home to the Education Executive Agency and National Tax Offices – two key public institutions.
A monochromatic form with repetitive projecting fins, the structure towers above its neighbours in the public realm, its asymmetric form ‘set amidst small, ancient woodland, sheltering rare and protected species’. External developments are still in progress, as concepts for a sizeable public garden with water features and a commercial pavilion are put into place.
In an effort to soften the relationship between architecture and the commercial environment, UNStudio has composed a design with a ‘more human and approachable profile’. Its organic relief creates a dramatic silhouette against the sky, ensuring that the building is memorable but not overly commanding.
The characteristic fins on the building’s exterior integrate elements of shading, wind control and daylight penetration, whilst keeping a large amount of heat outside the building which reduces the need for excess cooling measures inside. A high pressure ventilation system with natural air inflow and outflow via main engineering shafts and the facade grills on the 11th floor also reduces the need for artificial ventilation.
Internally the space has been arranged so that the tower can be reused as a residential complex for future use without major structural modifications, produced with a structural grid of 1.2m rather than the conventional office grid of 1.8m. Lifts, stairwells and technical spaces have also been thoughtfully situated.
In order to ensure the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly complex possible, a public-private partnership (DBFMO) was set up, designed ‘to effectuate on a more efficient use of public funds’. As such, a consortium comprising of Strukton, Ballast Nedam and John Laing took charge of the design, construction, financing, managing and maintenance of the building. UNStudio was the architect, Arup the engineer, and Studio Linse the interior advisor. Landscape design was provided by Lodewijk Baljon.